A new, fresh Hungary team gave international debuts to four players but couldn’t celebrate with a win as visitors Russia left with a 3-0 victory from the two teams’ international friendly match played at the Groupama Aréna in Budapest yesterday.
Hungary head coach Bernd Storck had initially selected two debutants, Dávid Márkvárt and Márton Eppel, in his starting lineup which also included a further four players with fewer than ten international caps.
One of those four, attacking midfielder Zsolt Kalmár, earnt a second-minute free-kick and Balázs Dzsudzsák, Hungary’s most experienced player of this squad, served Russia an early warning by blasting the set-piece just wide from long range. Russia then gave notice of their intent when Aleksandr Golovin drove inside from the left wing but he could only drag his low, right-footed shot wide of the left post.
This tactic of using forwards to attack from wide positions was indeed a sign of things to come when a couple of minutes later Russia took the lead in similar circumstances, this time Fedor Smolov cutting in from the opposite channel, evading Tamás Kádár’s challenge, nutmegging the covering Márkvárt and slotting the ball low and confidently past Hungarian goalkeeper Péter Gulácsi’s outstretched right hand and into the far left corner of the net.
The hosts were stung into action by this setback and dominated much of the rest of the half, left winger Zoltán Stieber going close with a fierce drive just over the bar and then feeding captain Dzsudzsák whose first-time effort flew centrimetres wide of the far right post. It was to be the visitors who struck again next though, Hungary guilty of overplaying at the back and conceding a right-wing corner which was delivered by right-back Aleksandr Samedov and accidentally bundled into his own goal by Eppel under pressure from striker Aleksandr Bukarov in the 40th minute.
A raft of half-time substitutions offered Hungary new impetus in their attempt to reduce the two-goal deficit, defender Ádám Lang’s 52nd-minute header across goal from Dzsudzsák’s free-kick causing consternation in the Russian defence but ultimately creeping out for a goal-kick, but no one was quite able to find an opportunity to test Russia vastly experienced goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev.
At the other end Stanislav Cercesov’s team Golovin’s crossfield pass from the left side was cracked a metre or two over Gulácsi’s crossbar by Samedov before Hungary’s best chance of the game so far was created, Klienheisler slipping through a neat pass in the 78th minute for fellow replacement Norbert Balogh to shoot at Akinfeev and then see his flicked shoot from the rebound cleared off the line by a covering defender.
Russia’s Golovin shot straight at Gulácsi from the edge of the Hungary penalty area as the away side continued to pose a threat on the counter-attack while Balogh saw his accurate finish ruled out for an offside in the build-up. Eventually a clinical Russia found a third goal to conclude the night’s action, substitute Dmitry Poloz’s deflected shot from 14 metres wrong-footing a faultless Gulacsi in the dying minutes. A valuable night’s experience for the home team will now be proceeded by a trip to Andorra this week for Friday’s FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifier.
Budapest, Groupama Aréna, 20:30
Goalscorers: RUS: Smolov (20′), Eppel (OG, 40′), Poloz (89′).
HUNGARY: Gulácsi – Bese, Lang, Kádár (Vinicius 46′), Hangya (Kleisz 46′) – Márkvárt, Nagy Á. – Dzsudzsák (Kleinheisler 70′), Kalmár (Sallai 46′), Stieber (Gyurcsó 75′) – Eppel (Balogh 70′). Head coach: Bernd Storck
RUSSIA: Akinfeev – Vasin, Kudrasov, Dzikia (Siskin 81′), Zirkov – Samedov (Smolnikov 76′), Zobnin (Erokin 33′), Glusakov, Golovin – Smolov (Mirancuk 84′), Bukarov (Dmitry Poloz 46′). Head coach: Stanislav Cercesov